Cell phone photo of an intensely colorful pollen corona around the sun on April 19. I used a tree to block the sun otherwise glare would have overwhelmed the sight. Bob King
For many of us, allergies kick in this time of year. Tree pollen is often the culprit. These tiny “male” granules often ride the wind to pollinate nearby flowers and in the process land in our eyes and get stuck in our noses. Although the grains are harmless, our immune system goes on the attack anyway, releasing histamines that make for teary, itchy eyes.
Pollen from a variety of plants magnified 500x
But like nearly everything in life pollen also has an up side. The powdery particles are so tiny they diffract the light of the sun and moon to form pollen coronas. Few skywatchers pay them much attention to them probably because we’re rubbing our eyes so much. But they’re totally amazing, appearing like a psychedelic bullseye of color centered on the sun or moon.
Several days ago I happened to look up toward the sun and noticed some color up there. So I stuck out my thumb at arm’s length and carefully blocked the solar disk. ...